Choosing a college is a big decision and can be overwhelming for many people. Students want to make sure they are going to fit in, feel comfortable, get a good education and graduate with a degree that will help them get a good job when they enter the job market.
To help in this decision making process, here are 10 questions you should ask yourself when choosing a college:
- What size college do you want to attend? If you’re coming from a small high school, you might feel more comfortable with a small college. On the other hand, you might be dying to spread your wings and move on to something bigger and better. The best way to figure it out is to visit and trust your gut, it’s usually right.
- Do you prefer the bright lights of a big city or a more subdued suburban or country atmosphere? Again, you may not really know what appeals to you until you visit. Pick a few colleges from both categories and try to visualize yourself there. Students generally get a “feeling” when they visit a campus. On your ride home, jot down how you felt as well as your likes, dislikes, concerns, and questions about that particular college. By doing this, you’ll have a clearer picture come decision time.
- Do you want to be close to home or “see the world?” Some kids feel more comfortable knowing home is a short drive away, while others want to get as far away from the nest as possible. The good news is, even if you choose a college close to home and start to regret your decision later, most colleges have study abroad or intern programs that can help broaden your horizons.
- Does the school offer the majors and/or degrees you're interested in? You may not know what you want to major in when you go to school, but you probably have a sense if you’re a math and science type of student or someone who prefers the arts. Take this into consideration when choosing your college. If you’re really not sure what interests you, you might want to look at liberal arts colleges that will expose you to a lot of different disciplines and help you get a well-rounded education.
- How much can you afford for college? This is really a tough one. Until you apply to a college and apply for financial aid and scholarships, you won’t really know exactly what it is going to cost. The key is to realize that even if you don’t think you can afford a private college, you should go look at a few anyway. All you can do is apply and see what happens. If in the end the numbers don't work out, well, at least you gave it your best shot.
- Do you want to go to school where students are similar to you or do you want a more diverse crowd? Some students want college to be an extension of their high school experience and might feel more comfortable with that type of atmosphere, but others might want to meet people from a variety of cultures. It all depends on what you're looking for.
- Do you want to go to a school where sports is a big focus? Even if you’re not an athlete, you might have always dreamed of going to a college with a huge football or basketball program and can’t wait to sit in the stands and watch the big game. If that's the case, then put it on your list.
- Is being in a sorority or fraternity something you’ve always envisioned yourself doing? If so, then seek out the schools that have an active Greek life and make it a point to talk to the students who belong to these groups. Getting the inside scoop is always better then just reading about it on the web or in a brochure.
- Do you want to go to a school where most kids go home on the weekend or do you want one where the campus is bustling on the weekends? This fact can make a big impact on your overall college experience, so it’s best to decide where it lands on your list of priorities. If it's not a big deal, then put it at the bottom of your list.
- What types of tutoring services does the college offer? Even though you might have been an A or B student in high school, college might be a whole different story. Classes that you used to cruise through might be more challenging and you need to reach out for extra help. By talking to the Admissions Office, you should be able to find out what types of services are offered just in case you need to take advantage of them down the road.
Getting answers to all of these questions should help you narrow down your search and make your decision a little easier. The good news is, if you've gotten this far, you're on the right path to a bright and fulfilling future.
What other questions do you think are important to ask when searching for colleges? Let us know in the comments below.